Public Lands

The Public Trust Doctrine as an Anti-Corruption Weapon

Everything Old Is New Again

As Rick noted a couple of weeks ago, the California Court of Appeal has recently decided that the public trust doctrine applies to groundwater resources — a long overdue holding that flows (so to speak) pretty much directly from the landmark Mono Lake decision that applied the PTD to surface water. (Since surface and groundwater […]

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South Carolina Federal Court Blocks Trump EPA Attempt to Suspend Clean Water Rule

G. H. W. Bush Appointee Issues Nationwide Injunction Because Agency Rescinded Prior Rule Without Public Discussion of the Rule’s Merits

Today, Hon. David Norton of the Federal District Court for the District of South Carolina (an appointee of George H. W. Bush) issued a nationwide injunction barring the implementation of the so-called “Suspension Rule” that effectively rescinded the Waters of the United States Rule (also called the WOTUS Rule or the Clean Water Rule) previously issued […]

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Secretary Zinke Misleads the Public About Wildfires and Federal Public Land Management

Secretary of Interior’s Op-Ed Ignores Science and Land-Use Planning to Falsely Blame Wildfire Risk on “Radical Environmentalists”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke published an op-ed today calling for “active management” of our federal public lands to reduce wildfire risk, and blaming “radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods” for the prevalance and lethality of wildfires in the American West.  Zinke’s op-ed is disingenuous, […]

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Careful what you wish for…

How Trump’s efforts to rollback national monuments might backfire

We have posted repeatedly here on Legal Planet on the Trump Administration’s efforts to rollback national monument designations made by prior administrations.  Litigation over those efforts is still ongoing (and likely will be for a long time).  However, I want to note some of the implications if the Administration should succeed in convincing the courts […]

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Public Lands Watch: ESA Regulations

Administration proposes subsantial revisions to the regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act

One of the most important statutes for management of federal public lands is the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  It’s important because it requires all federal agencies to avoid jeopardizing the existence of listed endangered and threatened species through their actions, and also to avoid adversely modifying critical habitat for those species.  That means when the […]

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1½ Years of Trump

Where are we, after continual environmental assaults by Trump, Pruitt, and Zinke?

Trump has been in office for a year and a half. Where do thing stand? How permanent will the damage be to environmental protection? Answer: bad, but not nearly as it might have been. The degree of resistance especially impressive when you consider the circumstances just how much of American government is controlled by Republicans.  […]

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Public Lands Watch: NEPA Regulations

Administration asks for ideas about how to revise regulations implementing NEPA

A key statute for public lands management is not specific to any of the federal land management agencies or any specific land categories or activities.  Instead, it is a statute that applies generically to all federal government activities: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  NEPA, in short, requires the federal government to thoroughly analyze significant […]

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UCLA Law Wells Environmental Law Clinic Files U.S. Supreme Court Brief on Behalf of Scientists in Endangered Species Act Case

Scientists’ Brief Argues Federal Agencies and Courts Must Use Science in Interpreting “Habitat” Under the Endangered Species Act; Clinic Clients Include Profs. Stuart Pimm & E.O. Wilson, Along With Three MacArthur “Genius” Award Recipients & Ten Other Esteemed Scientists

Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act in 1973 to protect species at risk of extinction.  Congress viewed species extinction as an urgent threat requiring urgent, decisive action.  The result was a bipartisan law designed to apply scientific knowledge and expertise to managing the threats to U.S. species.  While the Act has been controversial, and characterized […]

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Public Lands Watch: Sage Grouse Plan Revisions

BLM and Forest Service produce draft environmental impact statements for plan revisions

I wrote in the fall about the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken protections for sage grouse on federal public lands.  The next step in that process is currently ongoing – draft environmental impact statements (EIS) for revisions to land management plans for BLM and Forest Service lands.  Those EISs are required by the National Environmental […]

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What Trump Gives Appalachia With One Hand, He Takes Away with the Other

Ryan Zinke’s public land policies are accelerating the decline of eastern coal.

There is no one who Trump loves more than coal miners, and he has surrounded himself with Appalachian coal miners on important occasions. One of his most fervent pledges was to “end the war on coal.” Yet, Trump’s public lands policies are helping to accelerate the decline of eastern coal. A recent study by researchers […]

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